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Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014: Peekskill's Panzanaro will retire after season

   Leading off today: After 38 years coaching basketball at Peekskill, including the past 31 as head coach, Lou Panzanaro will retire at the conclusion of the current season, The Journal News reported Friday.

   Panzanaro, 67, who has won 572 games and five NYSPHSAA championships as the replacement for the legendary John Moro (410 wins), termed his decision "definite."

   "My father just turned 99," he told the paper. "At 93 he said, 'Can you give me two more years?' So when I told him this year, he said again, 'Can you give me one more year?' I said, 'No, not this time.'"

   Panzanaro said the demands of coaching and working as the athletic director have finally caught up to him. He'd like to stay on as AD for at least two more years.

   "I still love it, but doing the AD thing and coming over here, I feel I don't have the same intensity in practice," he said. "When I lose that, I don't want to do it anymore."

   Besides the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships, his teams have won 10 Section 1 and 3 Federation titles.

   Early decision: Scotia-Glenville's Joe Cremo, who was a third-team all-state selection last season after averaging 21.2 points and 13.0 rebounds per game, has made his college decision 17 months ahead of graduation.

   The 6-foot-3 sophomore forward said he informed coach Will Brown will continue his basketball career at SUNY Albany in 2015.

   "I knew right from the start that it was a great fit for me. It is local, my parents can come to the games and my coach through the years (Scotia assistant Glenn) Stopera has had a big influence on me and he felt this was a great fit," Cremo told The Times Union. "I talked with the coaches and I think I fit in well."

   Cremo is averaging 28.1 points on 63 percent shooting, 11.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in his junior season for the Tartans, ranked No. 3 in Class A by the New York State Sportswriters Association.

   Friday boys basketball: Unranked Weedsport never trailed and allowed just four third-quarter points en route to a 53-41 victory against No. 11 Fabius-Pompey in Class C action between Section 3 rivals.    J.J. O'Connor led all scorers with 19 points, including nine in the fourth quarter.

   "We're working hard and we're focused," Weedsport coach Matt Lipiska told The Citizen. "I think this group of guys is serious about basketball, they practice hard every day. We need to do what we've been doing."

   In Class AA, No. 25 Spring Valley handed No. 18 Clarkstown South its first loss, 75-65. Spring Valley survived the hosts' 8-for-16 shooting on first-half 3-pointers and took the lead for good late in the third quarter, closing out the contest on a 29-16 run.

   Rickey McGill (eight assists) and Kai Mitchell scored 20 points apiece in the win.

   Ah, that explains it: Kudos to James Johnson, my former Democrat and Chronicle co-worker, for giving the best explanation I've yet to see of that tangled web of athletic programs known as the Rochester City School District.

   Between its habit of swinging back-and-forth between lumping grades 7 through 12 in the same building and dividing junior highs from high schools, closing old schools and then re-opening them three months later with spectacularly silly names and merging sports programs in random fashion, the RCSD has largely become a shell of itself it the world of athletics.

   Johnson's story Friday helps sort out what's up in Dysfunction Junction, N.Y. Among the quirks he notes:

    • Leadership Academy for Young Men (there's that name thing at work) and Charlotte High, very good Class B teams in boys basketball, are housed in the same building near the northern tip of the city.

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    • The former John Marshall High is now Dr. Freddie Thomas High, which is confusing as all heck since generations of students have fond memories of their days at Marshall -- not to mention the fact that another school building in Rochester owned the Dr. Freddie Thomas name until last spring. (Further, most of the students at the "new" Freddie Thomas are former Marshall students.)

    • East High had been playing Class AA basketball despite a Class A enrollment for at least the last six years. The Orientals finally relented this year and moved down to Class A. That leaves Section 5 without a city school district team in its largest basketball class for probably the first time ever.

   "Next year, we have 12 legitimate 'AA' schools (plus Aquinas and Bishop Kearney)," sectional basketball chairman Jack Purificato told the paper. "When I took over (in 1999) it was 22 or so."

   Swim coach dismissed: Kurt Bessel, who coached Mexico High to the Section 3 Class B boys swimming championship last winter in his third season, has been fired by school Superintendent Robert Pritchard, The Post-Standard reported.

   Pritchard confirmed the dismissal but declined to offer reasons for Bessel's firing, saying it was a "personnel action. There was no incident and no misbehavior. I really don't want to talk about this."

   Bessel told the paper he was summoned to a meeting with Pritchard and district director of personnel Jeremy Belfield late last month, at which time he was given the option to resign or face termination. Bessel said Pritchard read a letter which cited a "lack of supervision of athletes while in the locker room." Bessel said he had left the facility early when Pritchard arrived to pick up his son, who is a member of the swim team.

   Bessel, a 2002 Mexico graduate, acknowledged that he had left the building in violation of the rules but said his dismissal is tied to one parent holding a grudge.

   Girls varsity assistant swim coach Kim Arroyo is serving as interim coach of the boys team.

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